Chromatic Stretch, Part 1

We all agree that time is very precious, so when it comes for guitar practice everyone wishes to get more by doing less! In the next two articles I will show you some very powerful chromatic exercises that will not only challenge your technique, but very beneficial in the many areas they cover. You'll be doing at least three exercises at one go. We'll start with Part 1.

As the title states, we'll be using chromatic scales, i.e. scales made up entirely of semi tones only. The stretch is going to be the 'tough' part we need to work on.

As the tab indicates, you'll be using a two string pattern everytime and moving it up/down the strings. But the tough part is that you'll lift the fingers only if necessary. That means that after the first, fourth and second finger notes are played and you come again to the first finger on the new string, none of the fingers from there onwards can be lifted up after being played! That means you'll finish with all four fingers on the strings and nothing in the air. If not practiced in this manner you'll only gain a small benefit of it's enormous 'riches'. Use strict alternate picking starting with a down stroke. That means you'll follow with an upstroke. The reason not to reverse the order is that if you start with an upstroke you'll be using 'outside' picking which in exercises like these isn't the best option. When you get the hang of it try the more stretched ones but keep in mind that our rule of 'no fingers in the air' still counts all the way through!

If you feel they're getting easy start to move the shapes diagonally and vertically. To take everything to the next level skip more strings one at a time until you come to execute the toughest i.e. tje6th to 1st string only! That is tough trust me but the results will be great and very satisfying for your fretting fingers, hand and arm without forgetting that you'll be picking in a very solid manner using cross and alternate motions. This is one of the warm ups that I do regularly, because I cover a lot of stuff in just few minutes without my technique having to suffer.

It's much more interesting and fulfilling than the usual chromatic stuff that we're soused to. So do hang in there, and press on to get it moving as soon as possible.

Next time we'll check out Part 2. See ya then!



Jean-Pierre Zammit is a guitarist and instructor from Malta who has been playing guitar since the age of 14.

Zammit uses complex techniques, time shifts and scales in his writing, and always puts the song and the message he wants to portray first.

His is endorsed by Music Man guitars to use their Axis BFR models and Ernie Ball strings.

Jean-Pierre Zammit